Ecosystem-based adaptation delivers benefits for people and nature
Ecosystem-based approaches can form an important part of human adaptation and disaster risk reduction strategies. Maintaining and enhancing mangroves, watershed vegetation and other ‘natural infrastructure’ can buffer people from extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and changing rainfall patterns. At the same time, these measures ensure that habitats continue to provide ecosystem services such as food, water filtration, and crop pollination in a changing climate.
Conserving mangroves in the neotropics provides a natural sea defence
In 2010, 13 BirdLife Partners formed the Neotropical Mangrove Alliance to conserve and restore mangroves in the Caribbean. Mangroves provide a natural protective shield against strong waves and extreme storms, which are becoming more severe as the climate changes. They are important carbon stores and support a wide variety of animals including fish, molluscs, and crabs, many of which are important food sources for birds as well as local communities.
Realigning coasts helps protect communities
Storm surges and sea level rise threaten coastal defences. However, natural habitats can help mitigate this risk. RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) is partnering with government and engineers to move defences inland and create coastal wetlands as a buffer. At Medmerry, new wetland is reducing flood risk to 348 homes. At Wallasea Island, 670 ha of newly created wetlands reduces flood risks and provides habitat for waterbirds.
Climate resilient altitudinal gradients (CRAGs) provide a focus for action in East Africa
Intact habitats on altitudinal gradients will become increasingly important under climate change because they help control erosion, regulate water flow and allow species to move upslope. In the African Great Lakes region, BirdLife Partners are conserving the most vulnerable sites across a landscape with an altitudinal gradient of more than 1,000 m. Planned interventions will enhance the resilience of local communities to climate change and benefit wildlife.
Restoring tidal marshes in San Pablo Bay, USA, benefits birds and people
Tidal marsh restoration by Audubon California in the San Pablo Bay IBA is reducing storm surge risk for neighbouring landowners while providing important habitat for threatened waterbirds such the Black Rail (Laterallus jamaicensis).